1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 18 “Speak to Aaron and his sons and all the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of the house of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel presents a burnt offering as his offering, for any of their vows or freewill offerings that they offer to the Lord, 19 if it is to be accepted for you it shall be a male without blemish, of the bulls or the sheep or the goats. 20 You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. 21 And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it. 22 Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the Lord or give them to the Lord as a food offering on the altar. 23 You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted. 24 Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the Lord; you shall not do it within your land, 25 neither shall you offer as the bread of your God any such animals gotten from a foreigner. Since there is a blemish in them, because of their mutilation, they will not be accepted for you.” ESV., Lev. 22:17-25
RAF: We are not to offer to God our second best. Yet how often this is very much the case. We worship Him with little or no energy – having used it up throughout the week on other things. We often give Him the time, the resources we have left over, not the firstfruits. When we do take on a task, sometimes we can do it in a fashion less careful or meticulously than we would if we did it for ourselves, or our employer. Why then would we imagine that such would be pleasing to God? When we do so, we reveal that in fact God is not the center of our lives, but merely a segment. Perhaps (we may say) the most important segment – but not the true hub. This passage ought to serve as a good reminder to examine ourselves once again to see whether or not such is the case.
Then again, note by way of contrast how much better off we are under the New Covenant of Christ than the old Mosaic one. What one among us feels that even their best is without defect? None. But we have this promise: “1 Pet. 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Our spiritual sacrifices ARE acceptable. How? “Through Jesus Christ.” What a great Redeemer He is!
2. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts. ESV., Lev. 23:1-2
RAF: This passage lists the 7 “feasts” God appointed for His people Israel.
a. A weekly Sabbath
b. Yearly Passover
c. Yearly Firstfruits
d. Yearly Weeks (or Pentecost)
e. Yearly Trumpets
f. Yearly Day of Atonement
g. Yearly Booths
Of all these, only one is not a feast in the proper sense: Atonement. This is the single day of fasting commanded by God for His people. By example, we can see that God appoints far more feasting for His people than fasting. More days of resting than mourning. There is to be sorrow over sin, but much more rejoicing over redemption. Where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded (Rom. 5:20). Those who would forget their sin altogether err, but those who focus upon it more than their forgiveness and reconciliation do as well. May our rejoicing be proportionate to the glory of our forgiveness, and our sorrow not outstrip our glorying in the finished work of Christ. The legalists would give us more fast days than feast days – or at least as many. The licentious would have no fast days at all and feast only. God appoints both, but in their proper measure. May we have the wisdom to do so as well.
3. The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil from beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly. 3 Outside the veil of the testimony, in the tent of meeting, Aaron shall arrange it from evening to morning before the Lord regularly. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 4 He shall arrange the lamps on the lampstand of pure gold before the Lord regularly. ESV., Lev. 24:1-4
RAF: It is the both the high privilege and the sacred duty of ministers to attend the house of the Lord, so that there is light. In other words, the ministry of the Word, opened and expounded that men’s souls may have the light of God’s Word illuminating them at all times. Whenever this is abandoned, the essentials are plunged into darkness:
a. The altar of incense; our prayers and petitions are to be illuminated by God’s Word that we might pray aright, and see its significance before God.
b. The table of the “shew-bread” – where the testimony that Christ is God’s Bread for us come down out of heaven, our soul’s sole sustenance.
c. The Ark of God’s Covenant. Then, behind a veil, but now, open to our full view. Here, God has made known His sworn faithfulness, and it is here where mercy covers our sins – where the blood of the Lamb is seen, and full and free forgiveness reigns while we fellowship with God.
Take away the light of God’s Word, and these three are obscured in total darkness. How powerful are Paul’s parting words to Timothy – “preach the word”. 2 Timothy 4:2
4. Now an Israelite woman’s son, whose father was an Egyptian, went out among the people of Israel. And the Israelite woman’s son and a man of Israel fought in the camp, 11 and the Israelite woman’s son blasphemed the Name, and cursed. Then they brought him to Moses. His mother’s name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan. 12 And they put him in custody, till the will of the Lord should be clear to them.
13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 14 “Bring out of the camp the one who cursed, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head, and let all the congregation stone him. 15 And speak to the people of Israel, saying, Whoever curses his God shall bear his sin. 16 Whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall stone him. The sojourner as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death. ESV., Lev. 24:10-16
RAF: How is it? Why is it – that when men strive with one another, it somehow seems fitting to curse God’s name? It is nothing other than the tendency within us to shift blame for sin and discomfort – for any problem – away from human sin and the Fall, back to God. Man will seek even unconsciously (perhaps we could call this the instinct of the fallen soul) to justify himself at all times – and to thrust his fist into the face of God. No wonder then it is to be met with such violence and disdain. Thoughts against God can arise from within in a moment. And while the Fall was eternally ordained, we must never sever it from the reality of man’s own responsibility in bringing it about – God is not to blame. But oh, how we want that weight off of our collective shoulders.
5. 17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death. 18 Whoever takes an animal’s life shall make it good, life for life. 19 If anyone injures his neighbor, as he has done it shall be done to him, 20 fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; whatever injury he has given a person shall be given to him. 21 Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, and whoever kills a person shall be put to death. 22 You shall have the same rule for the sojourner and for the native, for I am the Lord your God.” 23 So Moses spoke to the people of Israel, and they brought out of the camp the one who had cursed and stoned him with stones. Thus the people of Israel did as the Lord commanded Moses. ESV., Lev. 24:17-23
RAF: We must never forget the purpose of the command is to establish equity, not barbarism. In other words, the concept of an “eye for an eye” is twofold:
a. It prevents the thwarting of justice by failing to punish crimes at all. Sins against one another in society are not to be summarily dismissed. Personal forgiveness is always requisite, but sin often extends beyond the individual into society as a whole. It is one thing for me to forgive one who has broken into my house and stolen from me. To forgive and not require restitution of any kind is good. But it is another thing altogether to let such thieves go, only to rob my neighbor! This is to fail to love my neighbor as myself – and to see to it he is protected from harm. Thus I dare not let the thief go completely, but am responsible to see that justice is done for the good and protection of others. Hence Paul can warn Timothy regarding Alexander the coppersmith who did him “great harm.” (2 Tim. 4:14) The warning was necessary as an act of love for Timothy and others.
b. Note too that justice can be thwarted – or perverted – by OVER punishment. How easily we can see in our day, disproportionate monetary settlements in legal cases. Such fails to recognize that the punishment(s) must fit the crime in order for justice to be served. The loss of a tooth is to be compensated commensurately, not wildly. If someone steps on our toe, it is not to be a Federal case. It is not a warrant for death or taking away the whole of one’s home or goods. This statute in God’s Law for Israel prevents using the courts for revenge and promotes true equity among men.
For justice to be served, we must neither under punish, nor over punish. Failure in either direction, destroys a society eventually for it is contrary to God’s own attribute of just-ness.